Celebrated Jazz Musician Miles David: A Study Of His Life And Musical Accomplishments

Miles Davis is arguably the greatest jazz musician ever. His genius in jazz and trumpet playing is unstoppable. Milestones is a perfect example of the talent that Davis has, even though it’s often forgotten due to his later success. Miles Davis assembled a group of musicians at the peak of their talent and joined them by John Coltrane on tenor, Julian Adderley on alto saxophone and Paul Chambers on double bass. It is a valuable part of the musicians’ careers and jazz in general, so it deserves praise.

Miles Dewey Davis Jr. was born May 26, 1926. Davis was born in Alton (Illinois) and was blessed to have been part of a financially secure family. His father was an experienced dentist and they moved to East St. Louis, Missouri in 1927. There they purchased a large ranch. Miles was raised by his mother, who was a professional blues pianist. His father bought him a trumpet at the age 13 and started to arrange lessons with Elwood Buchanan. Buchanan demanded that Miles not use vibrato. He was different from other musicians of his time and this insisted on his continued playing with his trademark clear tone his entire career. Buchanan would strike Miles across his knuckles with the ruler, whenever he used vibrato. Miles, who was 16 years old at the time, was already a member in good standing of the musician’s union. He was also working as a professional when he wasn’t attending high school. While he was persuaded to get involved in bands, Miles stayed in highschool to finish his education at his mother’s request. Miles was a third-trumpeter in the 1944 Billy Eckstine group. It featured DizzyGillespie and Charlie Parker. Miles’s parents remained determined to complete his academic studies. Davis received a scholarship at Julliard School of Music that same year. He immediately quit academics and set out to find Charlie Parker. He had a unique style and was soon a member Parker’s Quintet. Davis wanted to be free from the shadows of jazz and to make his own recordings, which he did in 1948. Davis was a part of the nonet and signed with Capitol Records in 1949. He also participated in Paris Jazz Festival that year. Davis recorded throughout the 1950s with Prestige Records, Blue Note Records, and various smaller groups with a multitude of musicians. This was also when he fell in love with heroin. In 1954, Davis quit heroin use and began to incorporate the Harmon mute into his music. This was done in an effort to darken his trumpet’s sound. He would associate this sound with him for his entire career. All this lead to Davis becoming a great artist, and we are now at the end of the 1950s, when Milestones was released.

Miles Davis recorded the album with the help and support of some talented musicians. These musicians gained notoriety and popularity by performing with Miles. John Coltrane, who was not only Miles’ biggest fan, was part of the sextet. He was also known as “Trane”, and he was an early specialist in hard bop and bebop. This made him a great fit for Miles on the album. Coltrane was a Philadelphia freelancer when Miles asked him to join the quintet. Miles was also a heroin addict. The quintet’s recordings from the 1950s clearly show his maturing ability. Trane was briefly absent from the group, but he returned for Milestones. Red Garland, a pianist, joined Trane and Davis in the quintet. Miles brought Garland into the quintet because he loved boxing and was impressed by his previous experience. But, Garland didn’t disappoint, as he mixed his own unique chords with the light-hearted harmonic style of Ahmad Jamal. Paul Chambers, who was a double basseist and is known for his superb timing and intonation. His solos were a hallmark of his career.

Chambers’s work as a member of the quintet was widely regarded to be some of jazz’s most supportive and rhythmically-oriented bass playing. Philly Jones was the last member in the quintet.

Miles Davis said that Jones was his favourite drummer. When he looked for drummers, Jones would always be the one he heard. These five men were the Miles Davis Quintet. Together they produced some of 1950’s best music. Milestones was not recorded until 1958 when another musician joined the group. Julian “Cannonball”, Adderley, an alto saxophonist and Ray Charles’s friend in the 1940s, moved to New York City in 2005. He joined in 1957, about a month before Trane was to return to the ensemble. Miles recruited him because of his bluesy alto saxophone sounds. Milestones came out in 1958. Each member took responsibility for their own success. Trane released his first album, Atlantic Records’ debut album, containing all of his compositions. He took advantage of Miles’ success and became one the most popular jazz musicians in the world before his death in 1967.

After the album’s release, Red Garland started his own trio and was very successful. He also managed dozens of sessions for various labels. Davis and Garland had a difficult relationship by 1958. Davis fired him and Garland walked out on one Milestones session. Philly Joe Jones continued as a sideman to a wide range of musicians throughout his entire career. Bill Evans made clear that Jones was the drummer he favored. Chambers was with Miles for some more years before he moved on to Wynton Kelly for a few years. Chambers, much like Coltrane died in 1969, after struggling with heroin and alcohol addictions. But he is still remembered as one the most iconic and influential bassists of our time. After Miles’s work, Adderley founded his own quintet. He enjoyed greater success with it than he had earlier in the career. All these men showcased their great talent in the Milestones album. They were undoubtedly all better off working with Miles because he gave them the opportunity to shine in the spotlight and showcase their talent. This group was among the most gifted in jazz history.

Davis assembled a strong group of musicians, and recorded Milestones on two separate tracks on February 4, 1957 and March 4,58. After being recorded at Columbia 30th Street Studio, New York City, the album was released September 2, 1958. Coltrane, having just completed detox, was eager to regain the jazz talent he had. Miles was aware that the group would be difficult to keep together as each member of the group was becoming a jazz star in their own way. Red Garland, his pianist, walked out of the recording session for “Sid’s Ahead” and was immediately able to see this. Miles performed the song on his own piano, an amazing feat in music. Garland, however, didn’t leave empty-handed.

He shows his versatility by playing “Billy Boy” in his highly-developed bebop style. This album is bebop at its best, with Davis playing without his Harmon mute. The tunes feature fast-tempo rapid chord changes, which bebop is famous for. The two skilled saxophonists exchange improvisations over “Dr. Jackle’s bebop is at its finest. It’s fast, bouncy and always keeps listeners guessing. The contrast of Adderley’s playful alto and Coltrane’s hard hitting tenor are perfect complements and shows Miles Davis’s genius in putting this pair together. This album was the essence of everything bebop. But, its most important feature is Kind of Blue, which is what Davis’s next record.

Miles Davis was an innovator in exploring modals. Take a look at Milestones. Davis, who was opposed to modals being restrictive, embraced the concept of chord-basedimprovisation. Miles didn’t want to play in a variety of modes or move around a lot, but he wanted to find out how it was to just use chords and scales to create improv. Modal jazz didn’t reduce the energy and pace needed to change chords. This gave the ability to have a similar bebop-like feel. Many musicians began to see the value in Miles’ modal jazz and wanted to learn more, especially after Kind of Blue was released. Coltrane even brought the modal style along when he was a member of his own quartet during the 1960s. In the 1960s, Bill Evans tried the modal style. Davis explained more about modal forms, saying that “

You can play forever if you do it this way. “You don’t need to worry about changing…You can do more musically” (Gioia 264). Later, he said that he could envision a move from jazz to more modal styles.

This album is in Grammy Hall of Fame. They have sold many copies over the years. While Kind of Blue may have been the warm up, this album was a huge influence on jazz and the musicians that were part of the sextet.